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Winners and Loosers in the Welfare Society

Research project The Formation and Transformation of the Swedish Welfare Society from the 1930s to the 1970s

This project consists mainly of three studies: 1. The political advocates of the Swedish small farmers 2. Small farmers and housewives – the losers of the Swedish welfare society 3. The importance of the military defence for the Swedish welfare model The main purpose of is to illuminate the consequences of the industrial rationalization for the Swedish people in terms of winners and losers. Small farmers and housewives can then be seen as losers, despite of the high valuation of these professions in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, while middleclass occupations such as engineers and nurses were looked upon as occupations of the future during the post-war period as long as to the 1970s.

Head of project

Ann-Katrin Hatje
Professor emerita

Project overview

Project period:

2001-09-01 2008-05-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies

Research area


Project description

The studies are tied together by a contextual perspective that illuminates the transformation of Sweden to a society characterized by a large scaled industrialization, rationalization, centralization of social planning, and corporatism. How these social tendencies affected the gender construction and the public sector will be analysed on a macro-level.

The investigated period is from the late 1930s to the beginning of the 1970s with a focus on the 1940s and 1950s. Two phases of rationalisation are discerned in the Swedish post-war period, one in the 1940s and 1950s and the other one in the 1960s and 1970s.

The contextual perspective is combined with an actor´s perspective. Four persons, two men and two women have been chosen: the Social Democrat Per Edvin Sköld, the Liberal Waldemar Svensson i Ljungskile, the Agrarian and the author Märta Leijon and the Social Democrat and journalist Elsa Stuge. They were all born in the late 19th century and they were still active in the 1950s and to some extent in the 1960s. The activities of these persons
will be described and analysed from an ideological political point of view. To what extent and how did these persons react to the social tendencies described above? To what extent were they positive or negative towards these tendencies?

International comparisons will be made in order to point to the unique preconditions that Sweden had compared with other countries, which suffered from the vast destruction of World War II in the post-war period.

The gendered structure and construction of the public sector will be analysed. This macroperspectiv will be combined with studies how the agencies of the two men and two women, mentioned above, can be analysed from a gendered perspective. To what extent did they confirm or reject the prevailing gender order?